Paris Plages, the artificial beaches on the Seine

Stuck in old land-locked Paris during the summer? Worry no more! For Parisians who can’t make it to a beach in August, the beach comes to them. A lot of locals leave the city on holidays around that time, and the tourists flood in. But there’s a treat for those left behind – the city sets up the Paris Plages, artificial beaches along the banks of its famous arterial river, the Seine.

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A first time visitor’s guide to Biarritz

France is a lot more than just long leafy boulevards and cafés on the terrace. For a long time, i’d only know Paris – but there were beaches out there, as well as villages, farms, canyons, and mountains, and many kinds of cheese. So, with a few friends, we road tripped for the weekend to see the south Atlantic coast of France.

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Vannes – a step back in time to medieval France

It was almost 2am when we finally arrived at Vannes station, on the west coast of France, by TGV. I was pretty excited at the thought of flashing through the countryside at 300km/h, turning cows, fields, and villages into one long smear of green and brown blurs. But it was dark, and I fell asleep from exhaustion, waking up with bleary eyes as red as the train’s.

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Discovering the hidden art of Paris – Les Enfants du Monde

After spending quite a lot of time exploring Paris’ most famous and exciting museums and monuments, and an equal amount of time sitting at home eating cereal in my pyjamas, I decided to investigate what other things I could discover. This was Paris after all, and art of some kind could be found around almost any corner!

I found one of my favourite ‘lesser-known’ sights in Paris at Parc Bercy, a quiet park in Paris’ East in the 12th arrondissment. It’s a series of bronze sculptures called Les Enfants du Monde (The children of the world), created by French sculptor Rachid Khimoune in 2001. This multicultural crowd of melted and reworked metal represents 21 different countries, standing peacefully in a long line in the upper terrace of Parc Bercy. Each character comes to life with the very metal of the city streets; the textures, colours and insignia of manhole covers is integrated into each personality.

On a grey and rainy Paris day, I took a raincoat and a camera to see what these sculptures were.

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Learning a new language to enhance the travel experience

For about 6 months I’ve been trying to learn French. If you know me, or read my blog from time to time, you’ll know that my girlfriend Cindy is French, and from the beginning of our time together I’ve always wanted to have a conversation with her in her native language.

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Now I’m not entirely new to learning European languages; my parents were both born in Belgium and for a year and a half during my primary school years, my family moved to Antwerp, at which point I learned to speak fluent Flemish (a dialect of Dutch). In the years that passed, I’d largely forgotten the language, although from time to time I liked to refresh my Flemish a little bit, as my pronunciation was still fine and the language came back to me easily. French, however, was considerably harder! Read more

Painting whilst travelling: my experience

What have I been doing during my time in Paris? Well, sightseeing of course! But during my downtime i’ve found the time to paint; a small slice of life as a poor artist. Please enjoy what I came up with! Right now they’re off the frame, rolled up and hiding in a transport tube!

painting of a buddhist monk hanging bright orange robes
Laotian laundry. Inspired by my time in Luang Prabang, and many other Buddhist temples across Asia. Acrylic on canvas, 16″ x 20″
Old friend
Old friend leaving. The start of a journey, Acrylic on canvas, 15″ x 12″
Reflections
Reflections, acrylic on canvas. Quite small, sorry I dont know the size
Speakerbird
Speakerbird, Acrylic on canvas, 16″ x 20″
The truth
The truth. Acrylic on canvas, 40″ x 20″
Treasure2
Discovery. Acrylic on canvas, 18″ x 20″
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Photographer. Acrylic on canvas, 16″ x 20″. Another small one; sorry can’t remember the size!

A scavenger hunt in Paris

I received an urgent radiotelegraph from Alysha in Australia a few weeks ago. A voice crackled over the radio, and immediately I rushed to my desk and placed my cup of tea next to me. It was an old oaken piece of furtniture, with wrought-iron drawer handles and wood deeply etched with the lines from a century of quill work. I placed the metal receiver to my ear and held the microphone…and listened. The crackle became a voice. The message contained a scavenger hunt list of things to find during my stay in Paris. So, I set out to find all the items on the list…

…That didn’t really happen, it was an email. But the list is real. Here goes.

Task 1: Les Invalides

The Hôtel des Invalides is a monument located in central Paris, not far from the Eiffel Tower. With it’s high stone walls, manicured Queen-of-hearts garden and resplendant golden dome as it’s unmistakable pinnacle, this huge building looks as though it was built to house a king; however it’s original purpose was to house French war veterans. These days, it serves as a military museum.

French cannons in Invalides, with no shortage of the Fleur de Lis

Find Napoleon’s tomb

Napoleon died in exile in 1821 on the island of St. Helena. In 1840, Napoleon’s body was moved from the island to Paris, where in Invalides, his final resting place, a massive tomb was being constructed. The tomb is open to the public now. The huge casket is the size of a small truck, and looks like a great big wooden footrest covered in melted chocolate. The tomb is in a still, quiet circular room behind the Invalides church, hewn into a circular pit and guarded by stone sentinels, ringed by carved names of great Napoloeonic war victories.

The enormous casket of Napoleon Bonaparte

Find Napolean’s horse Read more

10 curiosities in Paris to try and find

As you know, there is a lot to do in Paris. You’ve probably heard of many of them – great monuments stare at each other from across great boulevards, the museums housed in former castles, eating and drinking great food.

But what about trying to track down the little curiosities?

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